I’ve noticed a strange irony – legalists, people who contest scandalous grace, tend to have an easy or low view of the law, while people who really ‘get’ grace seem to have a much higher and penetrating view of the law.
If you are going to put yourself under the authority of certain edicts, it follows that you have to interpret them in a way that is practical. You have to define moral repentance in a way that is doable. Paul has a different view of the law:
“Now we know that whatever the Law says, it speaks to those who are under the Law, that every mouth may be closed, and all the world may become accountable to God; because by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight; for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin. But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed;” Romans 3:19-25, NASB.
The law is more like a flashlight that shines on the skeletons in your closet. It rightly shows that you need to clean that mess up, but has no power to effect change. Freed of its need to effect change, and pressed into the service that it was designed for, the law can come into its full power, and shine the light on things that could never be admitted if their revelation required instant full resolution.
Look at it like this. When Jack Bauer needs some information out of someone, he can try to torture them, and he may elicit some kind of response. However, if he can negotiate some kind of amnesty agreement, then the subject can talk very freely about everything, and set things right, since the constant threat of prosecution is no longer hanging over their head.
The law serves an essential purpose: it shows us our need for mercy. It shows how undeserved our undeserved merit is. It causes us to love all the more because it shows us how greatly we have been forgiven. Grace does not say, all those skeletons are actually great, we love skeletons! It says, I will not abandon you or condemn you because of all this freakish stuff in your closet. I will help you. I will keep helping you. I will cause this seemingly endless supply of bones to stop ending up in your closet.
Lordship style obligatory fleshly moral resolve demands a clean closet, and so one tends to close the closet door before one can get a good look. It is much too embarrassing. Justified grace-driven accepting love-rooted easy-believe-ism allows one to open the closet wide, to take a good look at the damage, to fall in tears of gratitude at the feet of the One who sees and who still loves, who helps.
It is free and simple grace which allows a high and most penetrating view of the law.